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Hormonal imbalance in women: hot flashes, night sweats and hair loss

Hormonal imbalance in women: hot flashes, night sweats and hair loss

Hormone levels rise and fall during many stages of life for women, including pregnancy and menopause, causing uncomfortable and just plain annoying symptoms. What can be done to manage hormone imbalance in women?

“Healthy aging” is a catchphrase these days, and you’ll find it splashed all over the news, in magazines and on social media. When it comes to staying healthy as you age, managing your hormones plays an important role.

Wondering how to get a handle on your hormones in order to live your healthiest life? We’re shedding some light on the topic below.

The facts about hormone imbalances

When you think about hormone imbalances, menopause may be the first thing that comes to mind. While menopause is a frequent cause of hormone fluctuation, it isn’t the only cause of hormonal problems.

To understand the most common imbalances, you first need to understand what hormone imbalances are. They’re pretty much exactly what they sound like—they occur when the balance of certain hormones in the body is thrown off for some reason.

Imbalances are often caused by a problem in the endocrine system. You can consider this bodily system a dashboard that’s responsible for controlling the hormones responsible for all sorts of body functions, like your energy level and your metabolism. Endocrine glands, located throughout the body, release hormones.

Hormonal imbalances occur in conditions, including:

  • Adrenal insufficiency, where the adrenal glands don’t produce enough of certain hormones including cortisol
  • Diabetes, where the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin or the body can’t use insulin effectively
  • Hypogonadism, where the ovaries (or the testes in men) don’t produce enough hormone
  • Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, where the thyroid gland produces too little or too much thyroid hormones, respectively
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), where the ovaries produce an excess of hormones called androgens

Treatment options will vary depending on the specific type of disorder you have and the symptoms you’re facing. Your East Jefferson General Hospital primary care provider can help you identify what condition you have through basic lab tests to check hormone levels. From there, he or she can help you manage the issue or refer you to a specialist.

Easing menopause symptoms by balancing your hormones

The conditions listed above are the most common hormone disorders, but you may be most familiar with the hormone fluctuations associated with menopause.

Estrogen and progesterone are key hormones responsible for your reproductive health. The natural decline in estrogen typically after age 45 results in menopause. Women who are going through perimenopause (the time leading up to the permanent cessation of a woman’s menstrual cycle) or who are in menopause may experience a number of uncomfortable and sometimes debilitating symptoms.

Follicle-stimulating hormone, or FSH, is responsible for prompting the body to ovulate. The symptoms of a hormone imbalance related to FSH may include irregular periods, night sweats, hot flashes, weight gain or vaginal dryness. The decrease in estrogen production causes another hormone imbalance with testosterone, resulting in hair loss from the scalp and hair growth on the chin or upper lip. Many women experience at least several of those symptoms, which can disrupt sleep, make intimacy more challenging and even increase the risk of health conditions like heart disease or osteoporosis.

Hormone replacement therapy, also called HRT, is often recommended for women going through perimenopause. HRT includes taking a supplemental dose of hormones to help balance them out and reduce symptoms.

Many women take what’s known as “combined hormone therapy,” which includes both estrogen and progestin. Others, including women who have had a hysterectomy, may need to take only an estrogen replacement.

These medications, which are available in multiple forms including pills and topical creams, also have other benefits. Along with relieving symptoms, they can help protect your health by preventing bone loss, lowering the risk of hip and spine fractures and even reducing the risk of some types of cancer.

The bottom line? If you’re dealing with a hormone imbalance, don’t go through it alone! Help is available.

If you’re experiencing uncomfortable symptoms as you go through this stage of life, talk with your OB/GYN or another women’s health provider at East Jefferson General Hospital. Your provider can help you find relief and protect your health as you get older.